Edamame Pasta e Fagioli a Springtime Update

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Edamame Pasta e Fagioli

Dean Martin crooned, “When the stars make you drool just like a pasta fazool, that’s amore!” Mr. Martin, often favored that sort of relaxed improvisation. In today’s jargon, the fact that Dino’s lazy tongue was placed firmly in his cheek would simply be part of his brand. So it’s no surprise his audience didn’t mind his Americanizing the pronunciation of the classic Italian soup Pasta e Fagioli. In fact, Americans soon learned to swoon for the stuff. That’s because Pasta e Fagioli is as simple, as it is tasty and delicious. It’s easy to fall for this gutsy soup.

I share a bit of Mr. Martin’s love of relaxed improvisation. Pasta e Fagioli is the perfect candidate for my style of free-wheeling, culinary spontaneity. That’s because there are as many versions of this quintessential and beloved Italian dish as there are cooks. There are even Americanized translations. I know because pasta fazool makes many appearances at my American dinner table. When faced recently with a bag of impulsive frozen edamame (just when did I buy it and why??) I decided to follow Dino’s lead and treat this recipe as a rough outline rather than a set of specific instructions.

Edamame Pasta e Fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli, for instance, is traditionally made with borlotti beans, but it doesn’t have to be, does it? What about tomatoes for that matter? While we’re on the subject would you call parmesan a mandatory ingredient? Oh, and is there any reason you’d have to serve this soup by the fire? In fact, my version of Edamame Pasta e Fagioli seems better-suited to warm weather. So why not add mint?

Which begs the question. Is a classic still a classic if you update its basics? Can comfort food remain comfortable if parts of it are completely unfamiliar? When something’s always been done one way is it OK to do it a totally different way? This fresh, non-traditional version of the Italian soup Pasta e Fagioli uses frozen edamame (soy beans) in place of traditional borlotti beans, along with meaty bits of bacon and a big sprinkling of crumbled feta (yes feta). Edamame Pasta e Fagioli, that’s amore! GREG

Edamame Pasta e Fagioli

Edamame Pasta e Fagioli

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Edamame Pasta e Fagioli

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (plus more for serving )
  • 3 slice thick cut bacon (cut crosswise ½ inch thick)
  • 1 large carrot (halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into ¼-inch-thick half-moons )
  • 1 yellow onion (cut into ½-inch pieces )
  • 1 clove garlic (peeled and minced)
  • 1 (3-inch) rosemary sprig
  • 4 cup chicken stock (or vegetable broth)
  • 1 cup dried ditalini pasta (or other small pasta)
  • kosher and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 8 ounce frozen, shelled edamame beans (thawed)
  • 20-30 mint leaves (to taste, plus more as garnish)
  • crumbled feta (to taste)

Directions

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring often, until crisp, about 6 minutes. Add the carrot, onion, garlic and rosemary and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Lower the heat, add the stock, cover and simmer until the carrot is tender, about 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain.

Discard the rosemary sprig and season the soup with salt and pepper. Add the thawed edamame, cooked pasta, and mint. Spoon the soup into bowls, garnish with a few fresh mint leaves, then drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with crumbled feta (if using) and serve.